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Tall Tree Fest highlights Island talent

Inaugural event has already cleared first obstacle -- it's nearly sold out

Mike Devlin, Victoria Times Colonist, June 24, 2010

Tall Tree Fest highlights Island talent


What: Tall Tree Music Festival

When: Friday and Saturday (camping is available)

Where: Wild Coast Cottages, 6574 Baird Rd., Port Renfrew

Tickets: $70 (weekend pass) at Sitka Surf Shop, McPherson box office, and


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Music festivals always face their toughest challenges the first time out of the gate.

Attendance is an unknown. On-paper procedures can be problematic when executed. And the x-factors -- well, they are far too numerous to mention.

The organizers behind this weekend's Tall Tree Music Festival, being held Friday and Saturday on the Wild Coast Cottages grounds, have already beaten the odds by eliminating one of the biggest obstacles in their path.

The inaugural event, which was set at a fixed capacity to minimize the footprint on the Port Renfrew festival site, is already nearing sell-out status. More tickets could have been issued, according to Mike Roma of Radio Contact Productions, whose collective is producing the event, but immediate financial gain was never the motivation.

"There's something to be said about respecting where we are," he said. "If it gets too out of control, it's not fair to the town of Port Renfrew. You want to make sure that people walk away with a great experience, because the goal is to be able to do this for multiple years."

Radio Contact and a group of like-minded collaborators (including Sitka Surf and Skate Shop, Whitebird Lounge, Saltspring Island Ales, and Wild Coast Cottages and Big Fish Lodge) put plans in place to ensure the event's success, long before the first act takes the stage at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

Great care was taken to preserve the treed setting, which features views of the West Coast Trail.

The festival's "no fires, no pets, no bad attitudes" motto is underscored by an emphasis on environmentally sound practices. Car-pooling is not only encouraged but promoted -- a $20 carbon tax of sorts will be levied on vehicles parking with fewer than three passengers (a full car is free) -- while a portion of the proceeds will benefit the town of Port Renfrew and the Ancient Forest Alliance, which protects old-growth forests.

The same care was taken when choosing the acts. Among those appearing this weekend are popular performers Aidan Knight, Current Swell, Jon and Roy, Listening Party, Quoia, the Racoons, and Vince Vaccaro, along with a dozen other bands and DJs.

Each one has roots on Vancouver Island and has a distinct following that should make for two well-rounded days of music, Roma said.

"Everybody looks off the Island, but you can look in your backyard, too," he said. "The picking of the bands was something that was done to represent different circles. But all of them represent quality music." 

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Gates open: Friday, 5 p.m.

Age limit: 19 and over

Camping: On site and nearby at Pacheedaht campground

(both are separate from admission)

Tent size: No larger than 9 x 9 feet

Closest gas station: Sooke

Closest bank machine: Sooke

RVs: Permitted, but must park in lot (security patrolled)

Fires: Not permitted

Food: Available on site

Alcohol: Beer garden on site

Travel: Highway 14 via Sooke or Highway 18 via Lake Cowichan

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